Authotarian Government and Economic Development

Topics: Democracy, Autocracy, Economics Pages: 13 (3066 words) Published: May 5, 2014

Authoritarian Government and Economic Development

The purpose of this study is to examine the correlation between economic development and authoritarian governments. The objectives of this study are to find out whether authoritarian governments an impediment to economic growth and how the authoritarian governments are performing economically compared to the developed democratic nations. The study was conducted using a quantitative approach. In the first part of the study questionnaires were given to 40 students from International Islamic University Malaysia to find out their view on economic development and authoritarian government. In the second part, a comparison is done between the economic indicators of developed democratic nations and a group of selected authoritarian governments. The data suggests that an authoritarian government also can bring economic development to a nation.

Economic Development of a country and their political stability are always interconnected. If the society thinks that they are being worsened off by the current political system, it can lead to a political instability in the society. On the other hand, if the economy is politically unstable, it will reduce the incoming investment from abroad at the same time slowing down the development of a nation. That’s why it is always the goal of political economy to understand how institutional arrangements shape policy outcomes and human well-being. There has been some debate among the scholars about the degree to which institutional arrangements affect the economic development of a nation. Some researchers suggest a high economic growth among autocratic institutions is a proof that a “benevolent autocrat” can overcome the political obstacles necessary to create economic growth (Easterly, 2011). As a result, some suggest a benevolent autocrat is a necessity and an important factor for economic development during the primary stages of economic growth. Rostow (1971, p.57) states”... the buildup of an initial minimum quantum of social overhead capital (including the role of education), the bringing about of expansion in agriculture, and the generation of a supply of imports adequate for modernization have required important interventions and leadership by national governments.” However, Mulligan, Gil, and Martin (2004) find little evidence that political institutions enhance economic efficiency. The fact that the most of the developed industrialized nations are democratic was long taken as iron-clad evidence that only democracy can bring economic development. But the recent history, however, has complicated matters. The blistering economic growth of authoritarian governments like China without a political liberalization now suggests that the link between economic development and the liberal democracy is actually quite weak. The growing number of the affluent authoritarian state shows that they can reap the benefit of economic development without easing their political control. A key objective that motivates this paper is that an autocratic government is not always a disaster in economic terms. There is undeniable evidence throughout history that proves there has been economic development in autocratic governments. For example, Singapore was one of the fastest-growing countries in the last decade and the country has been classified as a ‘Growth Miracle’ (Przeworski et al. 2000) and as an ‘Asian Tiger Economy’ (Young 1995). The regime, led by Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, defended his form of government stating that it is very much needed to boost the economic development in the developing countries (Sen, 1999). The fast growing economy of China also challenges the notion that democracy is always essential to the economic development of a country. However, this paper is not intended as a defense of autocracy, but as means of gaining further insights into the issue why autocracy can sometimes be successful. We will focus...
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